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  • Martha Rasche

Missing A Friend

After a fitful few hours of sleep, yesterday I awoke to a day with no Dawn.

The day before, she died. Most unexpectedly. Age 59.

Dawn and I worked together for years as editors at The Herald. Were we not the only two females in a boardroom of men, I don’t know that we would have become friends. I am pretty much a pessimist and longtime depressive. She, on the other hand, was always optimistic and, like her name, made the world a brighter place. I often kidded her about wearing rose-colored glasses.

She was married with dogs; I am single with a cat.

We exchanged short texts at the end of July, and she said she’d reach out soon. Just last week, she did — saying she hadn’t been ready before to tell me she had started treatment for breast cancer. I am a cancer survivor, and she explained her treatment plan to me. For a few more weeks, she would be on her toughest, two-drug, chemo regimen, followed by three months of one-drug treatment.

“I’d love to talk to you about The Herald, life with cancer and so much more after I get through the two-drug treatments,” she wrote. “Talk to you in September!!!” (Three exclamation points, Dawn? Really? Nothing is that exciting.)

I told her that I was with her in spirit these weeks, and if she wasn’t feeling up to getting together when the time came, she shouldn’t think twice about ditching me. And I told her that when she felt like eating again (chemo notoriously causes nausea and kills taste buds), I would make Cheddar Broccoli Soup for her and her husband.

And then, with our get-together still two weeks away, she died.

The first night, when I couldn’t sleep for thinking of her, I started a list of Things Dawn Loved.

Her husband, Mike

Dogs in need of a home, including one that she found in her convertible one day and another that years later “knocked” on her front door. She was known to fry them eggs for breakfast.

Her post-Victorian home, which she and her husband knew on first sight was meant for them.

Baking, including the delectable Symphony Brownies she made for The Herald Christmas luncheon every year.

The Detroit Pistons. As often as the newsroom heard her talk about Chauncey and Tayshaun, how did they not show up in her obituary?

The Herald. She truly thought of the readers as she put stories on the page each day, and she often said she intended to work there until she died.

The arts, especially musicals; she loved Broadway tunes.

Her native Michigan, though she didn’t like the cold. Warm weather made her even cheerier than usual.

Traveling.

Hosting family and friends. She loved entertaining. She used to host an annual Christmas party for co-workers and their spouses/dates. Years later, when a musician friend of her husband’s passed through the area, she hosted a house concert at which he performed.

Christmas decorations, especially Santas. Her favorite holiday movie was “Christmas in Connecticut.”

A good cup of coffee and a good bottle of wine.

Speaking of wine — Cheers to my friend Dawn, who made my world a whole lot brighter.

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"History isn't usually told by the bigwigs of the era, even if they are some of its main characters. Instead, it is often reconstructed from snapshots of ordinary lives." — Amelia Nierenberg